FRISCO, Texas – Even though their season ended with a disappointing 2-1 loss to Colorado in the 2010 MLS Cup final, the recently concluded campaign was an overwhelming success for FC Dallas. Not only did manager Schellas Hyndman earn designation as the league’s top coach but tough-as-nails attacking midfielder David Ferreira was named league MVP.
But FCD lost two starting midfielders, Atiba Harris and Dax McCarty, in the Expansion Draft, so there are several holes to fill. Hyndman knows building a team that won the Western Conference Championship and advanced to the league final is hard to do, but he and his staff are up to the challenge.
MLSsoccer.com recently caught up with the FCD gaffer.
MLSsoccer.com: How do you look back on what you accomplished this season?
Hyndman: I look at the season as being a very successful season. The team has developed a culture of winning, something I talked about from day one. Players worked extremely hard. I think some of our younger players – Brek Shea, Eric Avila, Eric Alexander, George John and Zach Loyd – all made huge strides of improvement.
I thought we had three players that could have been MVP: Daniel Hernandez, Kevin Hartman and, of course, David Ferreira. I thought the three of them were outstanding. They [the younger players] got better each time they played. The older players held players to a high standard and held players accountable.
MLSsoccer.com: Is bringing in a forward still your top offseason priority?
Hyndman: I think we have to be able to make our team better next year than it was this year, which is a real tall order for us. Good players give you a chance to find success. Another striker is something that could help our team tremendously. I think another central midfielder, whether it’s attacking or defending, since we lost Dax McCarty [is also important].
Hopefully [Marvin] Chávez can continue to improve. Eric Avila comes out on the field and starts to perform on a regular basis. And then players like George John, Eric Alexander and Zach Loyd continue to step up. We’re putting a lot of time into players like Ruben [Luna], who could be that striker given the opportunity.
MLSsoccer.com: Speaking of strikers, would you be willing to bring Jeff Cunningham back in 2011 should you be able to negotiate a new contract?
Hyndman: Yeah, I think Jeff still has two to three really good years left in him before he considers retirement. He was the leading scorer for the team this past year.
MLSsoccer.com: Getting Ferreira locked up long-term also is another priority, is it not?
Hyndman: Sure it is. David is MVP, an All-Star and probably one of the most effective players in the league. Why not make this a situation where he’d be with us for a while?
MLSsoccer.com: Since Dario Sala’s option wasn’t picked up, does that mean Josh Lambo is ready to become a full-time backup?
Hyndman: We loaned him out last year so he can get more playing time, but he didn’t get the playing time we had all hoped for. I think Lambo saw how good things were here, the training he got here and the whole professional environment here. He’ll be as ready as he possibly can to be our No. 2 ‘keeper and to work his way into being the future keeper of FC Dallas. At the same time, even though we didn’t pick up the option for Darío, there is an option that he will be back or we might be finding another ‘keeper.
MLSsoccer.com: Are you still toying with the idea of going into a 4-4-2 next year?
Hyndman: That’s the preferred system but, with the freedom we give David and the fact he’s ever so productive in [our current 4-1-4-1] system, it’s really tough to change things and put him into a role where we might end up losing some of those things. I do see two strikers up front being something that would make our team a little bit more dangerous in the attacking third.
MLSsoccer.com: Captain Hernandez had knee surgery last month. Is that a concern going forward, especially with him being in his mid-30s?
Hyndman: Daniel really had a tremendous season for FC Dallas. He really is the on-field leader and captain for the team. I do think the last five to six weeks when he hurt his knee it was very difficult for him to be as effective as he was earlier in the year. He had his knee drained every week so he could perform.
I didn’t think we had a good enough player that could fill the role that Daniel was giving us on the field as a holding midfielder, as a defensive midfielder. That may change next year. You always have to be considered once a player starts to hit 30 and older.
MLSsoccer.com: Another of your starters, right back Heath Pearce, also battled injuries late in the year and didn’t see the field in the playoffs. Where do you go with him?
Hyndman: I think he’s one of the best defending flank players in the country. The injury was just one of those goofy injuries where he was working out extra wanting to get back a little quicker and ended up pulling a hamstring pretty severely. He wasn’t at his best for the championship game. He really wanted to get himself out there. He might have underestimated the severity of his injury and overestimated what he could bring to the team.
He was out for maybe a month. I thought our team was playing very good soccer and it was very difficult to put him there. I think he’s a very good player. He’s not a guy that picks up a lot of injuries. Hopefully that hamstring heals completely in the offseason and he comes in fit and ready to go.
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